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First Week Back 2018 – Homeschool & Life Happenings

Have you all started school yet? 

Well – we survived our first week! Despite my feelings of complete unpreparedness, we just jumped in and did it. Had we waited until everything was all in order, I’m sure there would have been 100 more reasons to hold off another week (or three). 

I didn’t even take our first day of school pictures. (True story) I texted Laurianna and asked her to take a selfie and send it to me, just so I could do a side by side of her kindergarten year and her senior year. 

I’m trying really hard not to think that over too much. My girl is graduating this year!

Meanwhile, my desk is covered in papers, I’m still waiting on a few things to be delivered (not crucial, just extra stuff), there are posters to hang, shelves to reorganize, but we started!

My hubby went away last weekend and I thought it would be great to repaint the school room before we started this week. We moved some stuff around (just a bit – and I’ll share more later), but with the moving there needed to be some touch-ups and minor spackling, so we were going to paint the entire room over in a new color. 

Unfortunately, in the adhesive map removal process, I managed to pull of the top layer of drywall, so my hubby (who is rather particular on finishing it right the first time) is going to have to do the fixing before we can paint. If you’ve read my blog for any time, you’ll know that having this UNFINISHED and staring at me every single day is jumping on my very last nerve. 

Solution: face my chair to the opposite wall so I don’t have to look at it every day. Done! (Ok, it’s not helping all the way, but it’ll do for now!)

Starting Slow and Easing In

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it’s this: take it easy the first week or two. We decided to start off by going over the subjects we will be covering this year and get a feel for what needs to happen each week. Other than that, our days involved the following: 

6th grade: reading, language/grammar, and geography

8th grade: reading and geography

10th grade: government, literature, and drama

12th grade: ALL IN!! :) Laurianna started classes bright and early Monday morning. This semester she will be at the community college Monday through Thursday and had all classes this week. No easing in for her! 

Morning Routine

McKenna is typically off on her own with her work during the week, but the boys and are planning to have a morning routine where we will be able to sit and work on a few things daily (CNN 10, Bible study) and then loop through a few other things like art projects, learning games, or whatever else we’re in the mood for. 

CNN 10 was a favorite of the boys last year, but we often had issues with the streaming because our internet speed was horrid. In June we finally joined the 21st century and are streaming seamlessly now, so they are thrilled. 

At our library I recently found Boxcar Children graphic novels. One of the things Kaleb will be reading this year is one of those books, so I picked up several for him to read prior to reading the actual book. For him, it’s a little less intimidating (and builds his confidence), so I am ALL IN. 

One of the BIG events that has been talked about every day so far this week – McKenna auditioned for the fall musical and received one of the lead roles. She rotated between laughter and crying the first little bit and is now furiously memorizing lines. 

For her this means practice every Friday evening and Saturday morning for three hours each time. They have been meeting already several Saturdays this month and the musical will run mid-November, so lots of work to do between now and then. 

If you look closely, yep. Ice cream. For breakfast. Some days I’m just not going to argue with them, especially when they are dressed, ready to go, and doing school work. I can’t really complain about that, right? 

The boys and I started a new read-aloud this week, The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, and even though we’re only a little bit in, they are laughing (or trying not to show they are). The story is set during 1967-68 and focuses on a 7th grade boy, Holling Hoodhood, who has to spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher while the rest of his class receives religious instruction. He is convinced his teacher hates him…and the rest is just hilarious. :)

And in other news, the driving continues with McKenna. This past week she graduated from driving down the smaller side roads to traveling on the more heavily-trafficked 55mph road. While it’s a little odd at times, she has really been doing well and gaining confidence each day (and hoping to drive more and more). 

Next week we will be adding in math for everyone along with the bulk of their remaining subjects, but still getting used to the overall day and routine.

Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

Check-up, Surgery, and Braces – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Last week the final few books needed for our upcoming year were ordered and almost everything has been delivered (woot!). Monday I was able to spend some time printing off student planners for both McKenna and Zachary. Before I print off my homeschool planner, I need to make sure I’m not missing any subjects (because that’s happened in year’s past and it drives me nuts when I’ve printed something off incorrectly…). 

The week itself was pretty full though and didn’t leave much room for me to work on anything else. Monday morning I had my last visit and set of xrays at the orthopedic center for my arm and received an ALL CLEAR. It’s healed very well and I have almost full range of motion in the arm. For now, it’s just a matter of building back strength in that arm, but it’s great to not worry so much about it! 

McKenna has been working on her driving skills since she received her permit just before we left for Europe (please ignore the dirty car – we’ve had a lot of rain and live on a dusty road). She’s mainly been driving up and down our road, but we saw these signs on a friend’s car and decided to get a set for our van too because she feels a little “safer” letting others know to be patient if they are behind her. No kidding, the first day we were out driving with them on the van – someone was driving so.very.close to her. Just makes a mom’s heart beat 1,000 times faster and pray harder. 

The other thing McKenna needs to start soon – her online drivers ed program. We used this same program with Laurianna and it was great and tied in well with her behind-the-wheel portion. 

One of my brothers flew in from Maine early Wednesday morning (as in 12:30 am) just in time to head to the hospital to be with my mom for another surgery. A few months back she found another lump in the same area she had a cancerous mass removed last year. She waited until we were back from Europe and had a biopsy done in June and we found out that it was definitely cancerous. This week’s surgery removed the rest of the area and was a little more intense, and she was able to return home on Thursday thanks to a wonderful doctor (and my brother who is hanging out with her there). 

This summer has really been quite a bit of an emotional roller coaster in regards to my mom and the various other things happening in our family – to the point that some days, it’s just overwhelming. If anything, I cannot say how much I appreciate the strength and support friends have provided through texts, prayers, hugs, and just letting tears flow. Quite honestly, it’s one of the reasons we aren’t quite where I thought we’d be with the upcoming school year, but I’ve really come to a point of peace with that as well. Moving into our thirteenth year of homeschooling, well – there’s a lot of comfort in that, especially as I realize we have a lot of familiar programs we use and an overall routine that has served us well – and will continue to do so. 

Thursday marked one more change too in our family: another set of braces. We knew Zachary was going to need them and finally had the chance to put them on this week. He isn’t necessarily thrilled with the prospect of two years in braces (and is hoping his teeth will shift sooner!), but he does look forward to having his mouth and bite feel better. :) 

One of the best parts of the week though? I get to spend some time with one of my brothers. He lives quite a bit away and the last time we were able to see him was almost two years ago, so it’s great to spend the time we can together and the kids always look forward to his visits too. 


That’s it for this week – how are YOU doing in your school plans? 


What the Summer Has Looked Like… Homeschool and Life Happenings

Pretty much, this has been my view much of the summer…

or this…

Let me be honest and tell you that I feel as if I have ZERO done for our upcoming school year. Being poolside weekly for meets and managing our summer swim team has taken up pretty much most of the summer (and I’m thankful we get to be a part of our kids’ passions). 

It’s been so much that I almost forgot to file our end of the year paperwork letting the county know that our kids finished up their year and they are doing fine academically. YIKES! But that was mailed yesterday and now I’m breathing a little easier. 

But next week with no swim team means zeroing in on any missing curriculum pieces, placing orders, printing like a mad-woman, and at least feeling like some prep is underway. Including cleaning out the schoolroom (which hasn’t been done since we wrapped up school in May). 

Hopefully this is helping you feel that you aren’t any more behind than others – or at least me! (grins) 

These summer updates feel like they have been pitiful, but truthfully, it’s life at the moment. We are enjoying our time off. Hanging out together. Camping. Spending time with friends (and away from online) – and I am loving that for sure. But my brain and sanity are ready to step back into the routine that our school year offers. 

How has your summer been going? 


Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings.

Fifth Grade Year in Review 2018

These wrap-up posts are a little bit late in coming, but something I still definitely want to do because we used a few new curriculum pieces this year and I’ve had some questions on how we liked it all. 

Overall, this was a definite year of growth for Kaleb, especially in the area of reading and writing. Kaleb is a kiddo that excels in math and science and could quite honestly care less about a few other areas. Over the course of the year his confidence has grown leaps and bounds, which is the most encouraging thing to see. 


5th Grade Homeschool Update

All that said, here’s a peek at what we are used this year and how it’s worked for us. 

Math – This is one of Kaleb’s favorite subjects (this and science). Teaching Textbooks is hands-down one of my favorite programs, especially now that they have an ONLINE VERSION, people! Math was the first subject Kaleb completed this year because he doesn’t mind working on more than one lesson some days. He even had fun helping his older siblings on some of their lessons. :) Especially when he would answer problems before they did. 

History – History ended up being so much better once we switched over to Mystery of History. Both of our boys retained more and really like the lessons so much better. We often incorporated a YouTube video with the lesson. Neither of them is thrilled with doing hands-on activities, so it was mainly reading and watching, but 100x better than how the year started! We finished off the first book and moved on to book 2 and worked through it as much as we could. 

HandwritingPrinting Power Plus was a great addition to our year. While we won’t be using the program next year, it was fabulous in helping Kaleb write smaller (and a bit more legibly). We used the keyboarding program that went along with it and he LOVED that, so we will purchase a higher level for him to work on in sixth grade.

Grammar/WritingGrowing with Grammar 5 was a daily subject and one Kaleb also finished early. We added in Soaring with Spelling this year and it was also great handwriting practice – and spelling/reading practice for him as well. This is another program we will be ordering again for next year to keep working on. 

We are definitely huge fans of WriteShop Junior as well. Next year we will include some WriteShop in our time, but are planning to switch up our curriculum in this area a bit as well (more literature-based for the year to incorporate reading and writing based on the books we read). I have some ideas for this and something we plan to use from WriteShop and will share soon!

Reading – We finished up All About Reading Level 4 – our last level!! This is bittersweet in a way for me, because this is our last kiddo to use the program. We did add in some additional books along with level 4 to round out the year, and that ended up being a great mix for him. 

Science – Kaleb’s favorite subject hands-down is science! Nancy Larson Science 4 was a great mix of reading and science for him. If you have a struggling reader, I really recommend their program since kids can follow along in their small workbooks and learn to highlight key words. It really has been good in building his confidence since he recognizes more difficult words, reads them in context, and in turn it helps boost his other reading. 

This year he had the chance to also participate in Lego League (we’ll do it again next year with the same group of boys) and he is really looking forward to working on that now that he better understands how the program works. 

We’ve been working on some robotics projects this summer from EEME (my arm has been slowing us down). I love that we can work on something simple over the summer, but it can still spark his interest and continue the learning. 

Bible – Truthfully, we didn’t work through the study I had printed off. I’ll admit that I got sidetracked with other things, but we plan to pull out the James study to work on this next year. 

Geography – This subject ended up being more included in our overall history studies than being a separate study of its own this year. As we look forward to next year, we are planning to use a Alpha Omega’s Lifepac for History/Geography that will encompass everything. 

Co-op – This was our last year doing this group co-op (a little bittersweet!!), but the boys had so much fun working on various projects together, mainly focused on science experiments and fun team-building activities (instant challenges).

Those were also wonderful to see the kids work together with a limited amount of supplies and quickly brainstorm to meet the challenge. 

Overall – another great year. We’ll definitely be tweaking some things for our sixth grade year and changing some things out (isn’t that always the case?). 

Stay tuned for updates on the other kids end of the year wrap up as well (better late than never!). 

How was YOUR year? 

Another Broken Something…Maybe – Homeschool and Life Happenings

So the weeks have been crazy-packed with lots of swim stuff happening and the girls at camp one week and the boys at camp the next. 

But they are all home now, laundry is in the wash, and I’m trying to take it easy. 

I did a little video update (below) but here are a few pictures over the last few weeks to share the basics: 

The girls spent the week at a volunteer camp and had a blast helping in the community, and enjoyed the fun nights too – they had a “decades” rollerskate night which led to the below…

Laurianna and I decided to take twinning to a whole new level. We visit the orthopedic doctor for her on Monday to find out for sure what is going on after she fell while rollerblading a little over a week ago. 

Kaleb is on his way to a stellar tan this summer thanks to a river fishing trip and wearing his swim jammers. 

Despite the 90 degree temps and all.the.sun, the boys had a great fishing trip with their Scouts troop, although they did tell me they were a bit homesick – for their beds and showers. One boy only showered once all week long and BOY COULD YOU TELL! Thank you Lord for soap, water, and deodorant. Amen. 

But – to keep it short, here’s the video update. Essentially, I got into a bit of trouble with the doctor (doing too much), I haven’t touched the schoolroom or curriculum since May 14th, and I’m learning what it means to rest…sorta.

The Broken Arm – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Typing is hard at the moment, so here’s a quick video update…